Examining the relationship between awe, spirituality, and religiosity.

Published on Jul 20, 2020in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
· DOI :10.1037/REL0000365
Peter O. Kearns1
Estimated H-index: 1
James M. Tyler11
Estimated H-index: 11
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Theoretical conceptualizations of awe suggest this emotion can be more positive or negative depending on specific appraisal processes. However, the emergent scientific study of awe rarely emphasizes its negative side, classifying it instead as a positive emotion. In the present research we tested whether there is a more negative variant of awe that arises in response to vast, complex stimuli that are threatening (e.g., tornadoes, terrorist attack, wrathful god). We discovered people do experienc...
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Awe has been theorized as a collective emotion, one that enables individuals to integrate into social collectives. In keeping with this theorizing, we propose that awe diminishes the sense of self and shifts attention away from individual interests and concerns. In testing this hypothesis across 6 studies (N = 2137), we first validate pictorial and verbal measures of the small self; we then document that daily, in vivo, and lab experiences of awe, but not other positive emotions, diminish the se...
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Awe is an emotional response to perceptually vast stimuli that transcend current frames of reference. Guided by conceptual analyses of awe as a collective emotion, across 5 studies (N = 2,078) we tested the hypothesis that awe can result in a diminishment of the individual self and its concerns, and increase prosocial behavior. In a representative national sample (Study 1), dispositional tendencies to experience awe predicted greater generosity in an economic game above and beyond other prosocia...
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Although emotion figures prominently in religious life, there has been little research on one of the strongest religious emotions—awe of God. The purpose of this study was to embed this key religious emotion in a wider latent-variable model that contains the following core hypotheses: (a) more frequent church attendance is associated with greater practical wisdom; (b) people with more practical wisdom are more likely to experience awe of God; (c) individuals who experience awe of God are more li...
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Across five studies, we found that awe increases both supernatural belief (Studies 1, 2, and 5) and intentional-pattern perception (Studies 3 and 4)—two phenomena that have been linked to agency detection, or the tendency to interpret events as the consequence of intentional and purpose-driven agents. Effects were both directly and conceptually replicated, and mediational analyses revealed that these effects were driven by the influence of awe on tolerance for uncertainty. Experiences of awe dec...
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